Not a bad turnout for a Tuesday night gig, no doubt Harvest Festival attendees had caught international acts Kevin Devine and This Town Needs Guns on the weekend.

First support up on the night was The Aura Cura, a 5-member band from Melbourne. A heavy metal influence was obvious the minute the lead singer’s heavy vocals breathed life out into the slowly building crowd and not surprising to see one of the guitarists wearing a W.A.S.P t-shirt. The band is probably a few years away from arena crowds and backstage shenanigans but promise was noticed especially in the tight drumming, and hopefully the singer’s moans progress from Evanescence-like eeriness to more Blackie Lawless caliber screams.

Surprise (or maybe not so surprising if you pay attention to Triple J unearthed) crowd pleasers on the night were another local group The Smith St Band. Another big group but with an utterly charming lead singer, it was hard to not like anything they decided to play but delightfully came out song after song of ingenious lyrics. Practically spewing out with a simple shrug, it was exhausting to watch. Rather like witnessing a very excited and sweet poet, in this instance a naivety added to the performance. Reminiscent of all the best early punk rock music, Smith St Band should have many looking forward to their next gig.

Kevin Devine obviously has a loyal fan base world wide, hailing from Brooklyn, NY; there was no big city arrogance here. Others have drawn comparisons to Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan, and a troubadour vibe was noticeable, but following Smith St Band, it was hard to be impressed lyrically. The crowd was not as critical however, with many singing along. Certainly, he created a warm and united atmosphere, which suited the political nature of his songs. A high point was Devine stepping away from the microphone to shout the remainder of a song into the crowd until he was red in the face, leaving one punter breathless except to turn to a friend and say, “That was phenomenal.”

This Town needs Guns have returned to Melbourne to much fan fare. Recently changing lead singers there were a few hiccups on the night but no one seemed to care. Often described as ‘Math Rock,’ this is perhaps an indication of where their sound is heading. For now, they are experimenting with the odd timing signature custom to the genre. For a singer only on his fourth gig it was a commendable performance, his nervousness adding to the very emotional vocals. Most pleasing was the very shoegaze start to a few of the songs, but the progressive beat ensured the crowd were soon clapping and dancing along. TTNG ended on a high by inviting the crowd up on stage for a dance, the Toff in Town’s signature disco ball providing the ambience for a celebration of fresh talent.

– Hannah Joyner